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Dr. Lomax 10, America 10, Us 4, Dr. Michael Lomax 4, Obama 3, Gwen Ifill 3, Frederick Douglass 2, Martin Luther King Iii 2, Washington 2, Barack Obama 2, United Negro 1, Pbs 1, Emmitt 1, Martin Luther King 1, Mart 1, Peers 1, Drexel University 1, P.a. 1, Wal-mart 1, Uncf 1,
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  CSPAN    [untitled]    [curator: unknown description]  

    April 5, 2010
    8:00 - 8:30pm EDT  

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baby t. porter person. i represent being called a key backer. >> the reasonable part. i wanted to be called the fed up party. i'd rather call to common sense party. -- kahlah to common sense party. if they wanted, then i cannot be for it. >> i will add on to that that four out of 10 to party voters are independent. . .
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>> before we get started, i want to thank the knight foundation for generously underwriting tonight's program. as we just saw two years ago, then-senator barack obama stood on this very stage and delivered one of the most important speeches of that campaign election, and some people would argue, one of the most important
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speeches ever said it in america. in that speech, the original that he used is now an hour core exhibition, signed by barack obama. he challenged the american people to face the complexity of race in this country. to make knowledge, as you heard, the racial stalemate we have been stuck with for years. for many citizens, his message resonated powerfully, the message that by working together, we could move past racial wounds and continue on a path toward a more perfect union. after president obama's election, at the notion of the post-racial election seemed to move inevitably toward the forefront of the national constant justness -- consciousness. people last, it isn't america post-racial?
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and there was a flurry of editorializing. these conversations have continued. the idea of the post-racial america have been proclaimed in many ways, a fallacy, a goal, an open question -- but one thing is clear. this historic election of our nation's first african-american president has not taken us, as he said, beyond racial divisions in a single election cycle. tonight we commemorate the two- year anniversary of president obama's historic speech by asking some of these questions and assessing where we stand on these issues today. and in this effort we are very honored to be joined by some as distinguished speakers. when eiffel -- gwen ifill,
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martin luther king the third, michael lomax. following dr. lomax's remarks, chuck williams will additional -- will introduce are additional panel members and moderate the discussion. dr. williams is the former co- host of a show on pbs radio and he is currently an assistant clinical professor and the director of the center for prevention of school lead to violence. -- school-aged violence. it is my pleasure to introduce to you dr. michael lomax, who will share his thoughts with us before we move to the panel. he is one of our nation's foremost leaders in advocating racial equality and justice.
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for years, dr. lomax has been encouraging americans to see education as the pivotal area where racist dynamic must be acknowledged and addressed. and it is noteworthy that tonight, as we begin to some of the challenges of racial division in america, the president obama just this week introduced a blueprint for an updated elementary and secondary education act that will overhaul the troubled behind, and i know that dr. lomax agrees that the president is confronting a pervasive racial stereotype when he asserts, "that all students should graduate from high school prepared for college and a career, no matter who you are and no matter where you come from."
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as president and ceo of than united negro college fund, dr. lomax heads the nation's largest and most effective minority education organization. through its member colleges, universities, scholarship programs, an advocacy activities, uncf is dedicated to combating inequality for low- income students of color and overcoming educational inequity. prior to his current role, dr. lomax served for seven years as president of dillard university and prior to that, he spent 30 years in public service and in academia, including serving as the first african-american chairman of the fulton county board of commissioners. dr. lomax has taught literature at morehouse college, spellman college, and the university of
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georgia, and he is currently a trustee of emory university. he is a member of that council of smithsonian institution's, the national museum of african- american history and culture, is my pleasure to introduce him now. ladies and gentlemen, please give a warm welcome to dr. law -- dr. michael lomax. [applause] >> thank you very much, david. good evening. i am deeply honored to be here, and after watching that clip, all intimidated. as we have seen from that clip of then-senator obama's speech delivered here two years ago, it was an extraordinarily elegant and thoughtful speech on the
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subject of race. and in id, he found the path through the national mine field, and for a brief period managed to put the subject of race on hold and find the space to pursue his candidacy without being mired in the turmoil that often attends that subject. even a year ago, his election seemed to have ushered in a new age -- a post-racial era. but today, with the economy still staggering, but partisan politics again ascendant, but tempers short, so many americans and black americans
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hurting as usual more than those, there is a sense among african-americans that the age of obama may be distinctive but not really different. race seems still to mater a lot, particularly among those who have the least and on the bottom socially and economically. senator obama may have sidestepped the issue in the 2008 presidential contest, but if you asked residents of central cities across this country, they may tell you that they are still stuck in that, black and blue, just like before. race is so daunting, such a big and expensive subject, that is hard to determine how to approach it, where to begin. for all african americans, it is
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both larger than life and also a deeply personal and intimate. so i will begin my remarks this evening with a brief personal reflection from my own experience of race over the six decades of my life. from that vantage point, it is impossible not to and knowledge that if not post-racial, the united states is not the vicious and bimonthly racial society i was born into in 1947, shortly after war war ii. after all, i grew up on the real news stories of him until -- emmitt till, the freedom rides, the march on washington, police dogs, and fire hoses. the harsh realities of being black in america were impossible to avoid.
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i came of age with the assassination of martin luther king. i got called nigger and i listen to white man called my mother girl. i sat in the back of the bus, attended a segregated school, i have in the, drank from, and relieve myself at the facilities reserved for people like me. and i suffered all of the psychological, if not physical, damage attendant on those experiences. from that perspective, my life is so much better, and the u.s. is a much better place. but, you know, my life is not the whole story. and i see that daily in the works that i used to provide educational opportunities for all children, especially low- income kids of color who have
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such a particularly difficult time breaking the cycle of under education and poverty that have haunted and help their families captive for generations after generation. today, these kids' lives looked little different from the lives of children half a century ago and more. they live under a cycle of poverty that the streets what they can be, what they can do, and what society can expect of an received from them. in this cycle, the results -- is the cycle the result of some continued, malignant, and malevolent racial intent? or is a legacy of the overt
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structural racism, that while it no longer has the support law as its foundation, still has the powerful force of habit propelling it through one generation to the next? what explains the fact that educational opportunity is not equally distributed for all of our kids? why is it that the hard-working , high-performing, low-income kids of color has a one-10 chance of completing college? while an upper income white kid has a 75% chance? i focus on education because i have concluded that, if not the silver bullet to take out all the racial bias and inequity, education is the best single ladder up and out of the bottom
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deck were so many of our kids of color reside. the great 19th century abolition aist frederick douglass said that education is the pathway from slavery to freedom. and that powerful sentiment seems as true today as it did when he first wrote it in 1845. getting a good education remains the best and surest path out of the stranglehold of intergenerational poverty. access to education has been a marker of the success or failure of the black freedom struggle from the days douglass put pen to paper. and it is instructive to remember how hard to blacks have struggled to get education and how elusive that goal has been.
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on like millions of other slaves who were doomed to legally in force illiteracy, douglass had learned to read and write, and he did use those skills to forge a path that allowed him to travel from maryland to massachusetts, from bondage to freedom. actor the civil war, teaching blacks to read and write was no longer legally prohibited, but it was still a matter of controversy and debate. the argument went something like this -- since blacks did not have the same mental capacities as whites, they were destined to be manual laborers, and therefore should not exercise their franchise as citizens. attempting to educate them would only make them dissatisfied with their condition.
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therefore, do not educate them. so for nearly a century after emancipation, education was rationed to african-americans, codify under segregation and the legal doctrine of separate but equal, african-americans were restricted to poorly financed, marginalize schools even though they were paying equal taxes. their opportunities to obtain even basic literacy were strictly constrained, and advanced education was off- limits to all but a limited few. americans public education system remains through most of the 20th-century a dual system, one that rationed rigorous academic stuff to some, mostly white, children and doled out only basic skills to the broad masses, and even that was delivered poorly.
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so nearly a century and a half after emancipation, black americans are still finding it difficult to pursue that educational freedom road about which douglass wrote before the civil war. now, a year into his term, president obama is proposing a sweeping revision of the landmark no child left behind legislation that was passed with uncharacteristic bipartisan support a decade ago. for all of its flaws in design and implementation, when we discuss the child left behind, i think it is important to make knowledge that it was perhaps the first national articulation of the notion that all americans are due as their
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right, not to spread and unequal education but that they are all due to learn challenging, academic content and the mental skills that will prepare them for further education and for careers. all children, regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, or economic condition, have the right to a public education that will prepare them for college, or demanding employment, for citizenship and civic engagement. today our nation is in the throes of a pervasive and still- threatening the economic crisis. we are re-examining institutions and fundamentally restructuring them to ensure that they whether the store and serve us better in the years to come. education is being viewed as foundational to a more secure
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national future, and for the first time in our country's history, there is a broad sense that we need all of our children to be better educated, not just an elite few. this week the president has called for the reauthorization of the elementary and second edition -- secondary education act, and a re-engineering of our public education system so that young men and women who graduate from our high schools will be able to enter college without injuring three mediation or enter the work force without needing retraining. thus they can be the refined human capital base for a sound economy and a vigorous, engaged citizenry. in 1865, with the end of the civil war, our nation had the chance to prepare former slaves for the challenges of freedom
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and citizenship by giving them education. doing so would have said an extraordinary precedent for educating the waves of immigrants who would come to america and in the decades that followed. but the nation refused. america turned its back on the freed slaves, and had it not been for the missionaries and for the freed men and women themselves, there would have been no formal education opportunities, no schools, no colleges. so this is a unique moment in american history. over the last decades of this and the previous century, we have struggled to reach imagine, reengineer, and redesigned our public schools. new generations of young americans are addressing themselves to address centuries of social inequities by become teaching -- by becoming teachers
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and school leaders. innovators are redesigning schools and creating bold new charters were poor children are finally being given the chance to learn and prepare themselves for the demands of the global and highly competitive economies in which they live. in the white house or two individuals who demonstrate the power of education to overcome the barriers of circumstance and to prepare them for lives beyond the boundaries that seem so fixed before they began their own educational journeys. so for me, this is a moment to challenge us all to examine carefully our public schools and our public education loss, policies, and practices. but it is also the moment to reaffirm that we are finally on
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the right course in our country. at last we are saying that all of our children can learn. and that all of our children must be educated to the high and rigorous standards demanded of the 21st century. and if we do that, we will finally put all of our children on frederick douglass' pathway from slavery to freedom. isn't it about time? [applause] >> ladies and gentlemen, welcome the moderator for tonight's program, dr. charles williams. [applause] >> ladies and gentlemen, let's give dr. lomax another round of applause.
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[applause] dr. lomax, if you are afraid to follow obama, i am afraid to follow you. [laughter] i like to thank all of you in the audience for being here tonight. give yourself a round of applause for coming in sight on this beautiful evening to talk about an issue that matter so much to all of us. i like to thank the national constitution center for giving me the opportunity to give me -- give me the opportunity to participate in this very worthwhile manner. c-span -- they seem to follow me wherever i go, at least in my head. and a special thanks to my colleagues and peers at the university for supporting -- drexel university for supporting this, we have people watching us live through the support of
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drexel university. dr. lomax talked about education, and i believe is a professor of a school of education, that there is probably no greater an indication of racial disparity than that which we find in education. with that said, tonight we plan to build and expand upon the comments made by dr. lomax. tonight with the support of a panel of very distinguished folk, myself not included, we will discuss the issue of america's racial divide, offering special consideration to issues related to politics, media, and economics. and while we will not be able to discuss all of the myriad issues, large and small, we
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throughout this complex, a -- we've done throughout this complex social phenomenon, we hope to have a dialogue about america's oldest and most dangerous social cancer. and remember that tonight is the first in a series of discussions on this issue, which the national constitutional center has committed to posting. so with the support of diverse groups of individuals from various professional, social, and economic backgrounds, we hope to continue a conversation with your support started just two years ago on this very stage. the question essentially is this -- how do we build that more perfect union, insuring that all have an opportunity to pursue a dream that brought so many to our shores?
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how do we close america's racial divide? and to quote of then-senator barack obama, or reduces it issued that this nation cannot afford to ignore. let us start our conversation. we of 40 met dr. michael lomax from the united negro college fund. next we have dr. michael lomax -- dr. thomas sugrue, author of the forthcoming book on some of these issues, although "not even past -- barack obama and the burden of race." [applause] we all got the memo of the color of the tie? [laughter] next we have somebody that
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probably needs no introduction, given the affinity that many people have for the memory of his father, not just in this country but around the world. of course we're talking about the late rev. dr. martin luther king, jr., and one of his esteemed sons, martin luther king iii. i believe that his twitter named in @kingiii. martin luther king iii, we're glad to have you here honoring your father's memory. [laughter] you thought i was joking about the coordination of the ties.
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we're very pleased to have gwen ifill, moderator and managing editor of the popular pbs -- pbs show, "washington week." she has served as moderator of presidential debates, most recently in 2008, which featured joe biden and sarah palin. she has written a book on these topics. ladies and gentlemen, gwen ifill. [applause] no i will take the seat. >> i did not get the memo. [laughter] >> thank all of you guys for being here tonight. i've got my notes arranged here , in my drexel university folder.
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a shameless plug. but they pay me so i have to work that in some doubt. somebody said that's right. i figured i would start with the story that has been in the press lately, that i think ties a lot of this together. maybe i am wrong -- we will see. and that as wal-mart. i don't know if you have been following that story about wal- mart. i thought initially it was much ado about nothing. you've probably heard that over in jersey, the wal-mart be a system -- p.a. system, there were remarks made about all black people leaving the store. have you heard about that? i did some research and uncovered a couple of things. i realize that wal-mart has been pressed a lot about these issues. you heard the fact that